Semliki National Park is awesome in its own way! - First off, have that 4X4 (4 wheel drive) sorted out and ready to go.
Depending on where you are in Uganda, If you are doing a bit of travelling by road to Semliki - you will love it! You will have opportunity to see a lot of rural Uganda, a life time driving experience and quite some places and Ugandan towns to visit.
My guess is; you are most likely doing the Rwenzori National Park as well or are you hiking the Rwenzori ranges? These are quite within proximity with Semliki. Whichever way, you could decide to do Semliki last as you wind down your stay.
Black & white Colobus Monkey - Photo by; Jocelyn Saurini
There is quite an impressive collection of game and birdlife here; 53 mammal species and over 440 birds. The birdlife here constitutes about 40% of Uganda's total birds collection ... and lest you forget;
Uganda has more bird species than any other country in the world. 10.6% (1,061) of the world's 10,000 bird species are found in Uganda - that is more than the entire Europe (1,000). Uganda has 46.1% of bird species in Africa (2,300).
There you have it! Semliki is right up there for the bird lovers - the variety is unbeatable!
Pick up a map at the entrance to help you with the trail of spotting the birds ... better still, the guides are always on hand.
You could also be interested in doing a wildlife study - for research and/ or education purposes. This park is a good place to do this. Talk to the authorities particularly the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
You will catch a glimpse of the forested Elephants, the buffalos, hippos and the mighty Crocodiles (these are common around the Semliki river) ... and in the forests is a good collection of primates - including nocturnal primates with strikingly glowing red eyes.
Bubbling Hot Spring - Photo by; Godfrey Mukalazi
The Semliki Hot Spring are without doubt the most exciting here. Quite noticeably, there are two springs to look out for; the male spring (locally known as Bintente) set in a lush swampy area is about 12m in diameter. It is the calmer of the two.
The female spring (locally known as Nyasimbi) puts on quite an impressive show with boiling geysers and bubbling water and steam that goes as high as 2 meters - the steam cloud can be seen from as far as a mile away. Temperatures run as high as 103°C - quite hot, you can guarantee a boiled egg for lunch in minutes if you are running low... ask the locals how to do it!
The Semliki river is an impressive feature itself - They say it's a smaller version of the mighty Congo river. Amazing scenes along its flow! This 160km long river picks up overspill from the Rwenzori ranges creating wonderful sights on its way to Lake Albert and the Nile. You will catch a glimpse of the Hippos and the Crocs as you hike along the roadside viewpoints.
Photo by; Godfrey Mukalazi
Quite close to the hot springs is the Mungiro falls - another local attraction for you to mark off.
The beauty about Semliki is that you can do lots of hiking and nature walks in a safe and natural environment - you can do night hikes as well. The Sempaya - Ntandi road is a 6km public road that goes through a lovely section of the forest. Birds lovers will love this section - lots of species to see as you walk along ... and lively primates jumping from tree to tree high up in the forest canopy.
There are 3 trails to look out for; the Kirumia trail (13km) - cuts through the heart of the forest to River Semliki, the Sempaya Nature Trail (8km) - this takes you to the hot springs, and the Red Monkey Trail (11km) - runs across the eastern section to river Semliki.
... And then of course the exciting game drives; these are usually in the morning and in the afternoon and there are three tracks you could follow that cross the savannah grassland. You will most certainly spot Elephants, bufallos, waterbucks, Uganda kob, bush hogs, pygmy hippos, leopards - and that's just a few! Some rare species along the way ... and what is thrilling is that you could choose to join in with the night game drives.
Photo by; sarahemcc
As you do the walk abouts, you will certainly meet the local traditional Batwa dancers. These light up the day with their impressive roadside theatres. It is exciting to pick up on their interesting hunter-gathering lifestyle that has for ages kept them dependant on the Semliki forest. Lots of souvenirs to pickup from their local stalls to support them - have some change with you.
Still wondering what to do with a bit of time to spare? Quite close is the Toro - Semliki Wildlife Reserve. This protected natural landscape that spans through the tropical rainforest punctuated with grassy savannah, flat plains and deep river valleys is a joy for the eyes. Good collection of protected game as well.
Take the boat ride on Lake Albert - it's such a thrill! ... only then will you get to see the rare mighty shoebill.
Have yourselves a lovely time!
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